Groundbreaking ceremony held for new Eau Claire solar garden

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- An abandoned landfill in western Wisconsin will now be home to a solar garden.

Xcel Energy broke ground on the first Solar Connect Community Project in Eau Claire Thursday. Once finished, the project will include over 3,000 solar panels on 7.5 acres of land on West Hamilton Avenue.

Xcel says the program is being offered to business and residential customers on a first-come, first-served basis. So far, about 65 percent of the panels in the Eau Claire and La Crosse projects have been reserved.

Mark Stoering, Xcel Energy President, says the project will be able to provide energy to about 164 homes.

"Technology continues to advance with solar energy production: costs continue to come down, of course it is good clean carbon free energy so we're interested in that. So over time, as we continue to grow our renewable energy portfolio, we fully intend to add more solar energy," said Mark Stoering, Xcel Energy President of Wisconsin and Minnesota.

The Eau Claire garden is expected to be in service in early 2017. A second similar-sized solar project is planned for the La Crosse area next year.

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